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The Relentless Love of God

dreamstime_xs_22964162By Jesse Jost

I don’t know about you, but I often doubt that God really loves me. Part of me wonders if the message of God’s love is too good to be true. Maybe it’s just more Joel Osteen syrup lulling me into a sugar coma where I’m safe from the hard truths in scripture about holiness, judgement, and God’s wrath. 

Is it possible to over-proclaim God’s love? Does focusing on God’s unconditional love make us lazy about discipline and obedience? Can we have too high a view of God’s love? Can we conjure a false god who would love us more than the real God does? I don’t think so.

If there is one truth that Satan does not want you to grasp, I believe it is this: God loves you with an overwhelming, steadfast, relentless love. Spiritual problems don’t crop up in our life because we have too exalted a view of God’s love, but because our view is not great enough.

There are two partial views of God’s love that Satan desperately spreads to wreak havoc with your spiritual growth:

  1. God wants you to be good and holy, but His love is contingent on your spiritual performance.
  2. God loves you unconditionally just the way you are, and He’s content to leave you unchanged.

Both partial views make far too little of God’s love and are no threat to Satan’s ultimate goal of destroying your relationship with God.

Some of you have grown up in a legalistic home where God was portrayed as harsh and stern. God only loved you when you were good; He had such ridiculously high expectations that you felt He was always disappointed in you. You are in dire need of seeing the unconditional aspect of God’s love.

But sadly we often exchange one incomplete view of God’s love for another. The Stern Critical Father is replaced with the Infatuated Teenager view of God’s love, where God is “crazy about you” and “obsessed with you.” God loves everything about you just the way you are. Here God’s love is reduced to dreamy infatuation that doesn’t seem to care about your bondage to sin. He’s not bothered by your little failures; He just wants you to know that He loves you.

Both of these views of God’s love are pitifully weak compared to the raging holy passion that the real almighty God of the universe has for you. God loved you while you were dead in sin, an enslaved enemy of God. God loves because He IS love. His nature is to love sacrificially and without end. God can’t NOT love you anymore than God can lie. God loves you just the way you are. But God loves you far too much to leave you broken and enslaved to things that are destroying you! Continue reading…

  • Sara Daigle

    This is a wonderful, wonderful, article. Thank you so much!

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A Message From The Author of Your Faith

dreamstime_xs_23872857Verses compiled, personalized and paraphrased by Jesse Jost

I want you to stop and ponder what amazing love My Father has given you by calling you His children.

Think about it: You were dead in your trespasses and sins, following the course of this world, enslaved to one who hates you, carrying out the evil desires of body and mind. You were foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing your days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. You were by nature children of wrath, enemies of God. But My Father, who is rich in mercy, and because of His great love with which He loves you, even while you were dead in sin, made you alive in Me, and raised you up to be seated in heavenly places, that in you might be displayed His indescribable kindness.

You have been saved by His grace through faith. This is not your doing, but pure gift. You have done nothing to earn this, so don’t boast. You are My workmanship. I created you for good works that were prepared before you were conceived.

You once were nobodies, without mercy and without hope. But now you have been predestined for adoption by the King of Kings. You are in line for an inheritance that you can barely comprehend. This is a sure thing because it’s been promised by My Father who works all things according to the counsel of His will. No purpose of His can be thwarted.

All whom the Father has given Me will come to Me, and I will lose none of you. I am able to save you to the uttermost. I live to make intercession for you.

Don’t think I’m a high Priest who can’t sympathize with your weakness! I was tempted in every respect that you are, I tasted the weakness and the deprivations of life, and through My own death, I destroyed the one who has the power of death: the devil. So come with confidence to My throne and you will receive mercy and grace to help in your time of need.

Be sober-minded, be watchful. Your enemy, the devil, walks about like a roaring lion seeking to devour you. Don’t rely on your strength, and don’t look to your righteousness to be accepted by Me. Don’t boast in your giftings or callings, because they all come from Me. I am the one who is empowering everyone.

Don’t think you can stand on your own. Abide in me. Without Me you can do nothing. I will not let you be tempted beyond what you are able and will always provide a way of escape. Be extra vigilant against pride. Seriously, don’t take pride lightly! My Father opposes the proud person! Reflect on that a minute. You don’t want God against you!

Continue reading…

  • Jackie

    A pastor explaining Eps. 2:1 used the illustration of a body in a graveyard … that that is how “dead” we are, and unable to save ourselves. This article is one of the clearest, most personal and beautiful compilations I’ve ever read. God is certainly using your writing!

  • Jesse

    Thank you so much for writing. It encouraged me today that God is powerful and I want to keep staying close to Him. I found your blog a few years ago and have enjoyed and been blessed by your articles.

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An Often Overlooked Spiritual Cancer

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-man-headache-casual-wearing-blue-tshirt-jeans-dark-background-image31791190By Jesse Jost

What are you frustrated with right now? Is your church spiritually dry and apathetic? Are there people who just don’t understand you and continue to torment you with words of slander? Is your body letting you down with weakness and sickness? Has your vehicle broken down again?

We start each day with different goals and agendas for what we want to accomplish. But usually we don’t get very far into the day before we discover that life has other plans for us. Sickness, injury, red tape, human incompetence, and the internet can each appear as an obstacle to our goals.

The Bible calls these interruptions to our agenda “trials.” We want sleep and the stomach flu leaves its calling card all over our kids’ bathroom. We want to live a sanctified life for God’s glory with a sweet spirit, but tiredness and hormones make the day an emotional struggle. Life with other broken humans means that you can’t get too far down the path before someone does or says something that shatters your peace and tranquility.

When our purposes and plans are derailed, we feel angry and frustrated. We believe we are justified in indulging frustration, because it is, in a twisted way, very ego stroking. When we are frustrated by other people’s stupidity or incompetence, we inwardly delight in our superiority, that were we in their shoes, we would do things better. When we are frustrated by spiritual immaturity, or ineffectiveness in our church body, we believe we are among the truly spiritual ones. When we are frustrated by breakdowns and delays, it is because we believe that our plan for the day is the best and that it is being hindered.

Is frustration a spiritually healthy condition to be in?  Is frustration proof of our righteousness? Is God ever frustrated?

This world is not as it should be. Babies are mutilated and sold for research. Women are raped in the name of religion. We are saddled with corrupt bureaucratic governments, and a society that seems determined to flaunt its self-destructive ways in the face of God. Surely God must be so frustrated with us down here. Right? Well, if by  “frustrated” you mean, “feeling or expressing distress and annoyance, especially because of inability to change or achieve something,” then no. According to the Bible, God cannot be frustrated because “no purpose of His can be thwarted,” (Job 42:2) and God “works all things according to the counsel of His will.” (Eph 1:11)  Continue reading…

  • Timothy

    Doesn’t Jesus have a bit of frustration in his voice when he says things like, “How long will I be among this twisted generation?”

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The Dangers of Sheltering

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-storm-coming-image28589496By Jesse Jost

The day after my first child was born, I strode out of the hospital a new man. I couldn’t believe how different the world looked, and how I felt about it. I was a father. As I carried that little breathing soul carefully to our van, I vowed to do all that I could to protect my son. I drove with utmost care and caution, paranoid of every intersection. A newborn enters a crazy world of dangers. Physical dangers like choking hazards, or metal falling off the semi-truck ahead of you and exploding your vehicle’s gas tank (this actually happened to someone.) But there are also all kinds of spiritual dangers that can lead to heartbreak and despair in this life, and torment in the next.

As new parents hold that tiny, wrinkled form, a protective instinct is awoken that shocks them with its intensity. Parents, of course, have a duty to protect their children. But I am discovering a dangerous lie that can sabotage parents’ efforts to protect their child from evil. The lie: The most dangerous evil your child faces is “out there.” If you can keep your child from evil influences, he will become a good child.

It’s an appealing idea to parents. But the truth is that the most dangerous evil we all face is in our own heart. Jesus warned: “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.  All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” (Mark 7:20-23)

The seeds for these repulsive characteristics are in your child’s heart from the moment of birth. As a parent, you are powerless to change your child’s heart. It is only God who can grant new birth by the power of His Spirit.

When you live by the lie that your kids will be good if they are protected from evil influences, your attention will focus on guarding against outside sources. Meanwhile, the deadly killer of sin within will fester and grow unnoticed. And because you have protected the outside of your child so well, their externals will probably look reassuringly clean and shiny compared to the dark and dirty world beyond.

Sheltering is a natural greenhouse for pride. The child protected from many temptations that have brought his peers low, can start to take credit for his lack of moral failures. Because he has not been in situations that have shown him his inner brokenness, he will feel morally superior. But pride is as dangerous as any of the evils parents try to protect their children from, perhaps even more so. It says in Proverbs that immorality is a “deep pit. And those that are abhorred by the Lord will fall there.” (Prov. 22:14) What makes this verse chilling is when you combine it with Proverbs 16:5 “Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD; Assuredly, he will not be unpunished.”

Continue reading…

  • Lee M

    Bang on target, Jesse. One thought I’ve had is that sheltering, taken to the extreme, can rob a young person of the opportunity to develop real internal strength and the ability to stand in the grace of Christ without external supports and restraints – then, when that young person’s external restraints and supports are for one reason or another taken away, they do not have what it takes to resist sin. I like Pastor Eric Lucy’s take on sheltering: the goal of sheltering is to allow necessary time for preparation and growth with the ultimate goal being that of the strength to attend in Christ alone; much like a seedling being started in a greenhouse, then hardened off outside, and finally grown into a tree with the toughness to withstand a hurricane. I hadn’t really thought as much of the pride issue before, though. Your article adds yet another important piece of balance to this controversial issue. Blessings!

  • Risking Our Children | Preserving the Harvest

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Is God the Author of Every Human Life?

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-woman-birth-control-pills-image25835869By Jesse Jost

I want to look briefly at the topic of birth control. I know by bringing this up I am dangerously digging in a minefield of emotions. Many, if not almost all, couples use some form of birth control, and do so for very strongly held reasons.

When it comes to the birth control debate there are so many issues to consider: What is your motivation for having kids? Can you responsibly provide for them? Can you handle another child and still maintain a Christ-like attitude? These are all important questions to ask for most of our choices in life, but with birth control there is a deeper issue to consider first.

This watershed issue must be considered before all else: Is God the author of all human life, or does some life enter the world against God’s wishes? Continue reading…

  • Justin

    I am not sure if this has already been said (there are a lot of comments to read), but could it not be said that you are doubting God’s sovereignty. Is it impossible to make those actively using birth control to become pregnant? Is it impossible for God to make pregnant a virgin? You know that it is not impossible, or you call the bible a liar. For the same reason of God’s control, both sides of this question are applicable.
    I am not angry, I personally have no idea which side of the side of the question is right. I admit I am not married (yet), nor do I have kids, but I am a Christian.
    I personally don’t think this is much of an issue, as long as you have a reason for it that is glorifying to God and not only for selfish reasons.

  • Amber

    Sounds like a lot of readers bring up the call of adoption. Anyone considering adoption but afraid that they cannot afford it should visit reecesrainbow.org and join the Official Reece’s Rainbow group on facebook. There is a HUGE community of support–emotional, financial, even spiritual at times. Some of these children have grants that would be available at the time of travel and that cover most or all of the costs, and there are MANY many others in different countries with smaller grants that can help a family bring them home.

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Breathing Life in the Culture of Death

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-cute-little-girl-bright-face-mask-image47189975By Heidi Jost

            When the first drops of blood fell, I began a journey to life, though I didn’t know it at the time. In the months after my unborn baby slipped out of my body, God showed me something priceless that I had paid lip service to, but my heart was far from believing: life is precious, children are a blessing, and God can be trusted.

Always.

Jesse and I already had the million-dollar family: a boy and a girl. A lot of people commented that we must be done. We joked, “Nah, we’re going for a multi-million dollar family.”

I have wanted every baby that has been conceived in my womb. I just haven’t wanted them to come closer together than two years, afraid I might go crazy or that I might look to others like a run down, exhausted, and overwhelmed rabbit factory who doesn’t “know what causes that.” Fear of having kids close in age infected my thoughts and choices.

Anyway, here I was, pregnant with baby three, who was going to be just over two years younger than its big sister. I felt like I could handle this, and we were excited! In between waves of nausea, that is. When the waves settled early, I was pretty happy. Until the blood dripped and I found out the baby had already died in my womb over a month ago.

We buried baby Davey by my sister’s grave. And I walked out of that cemetery shaken to my core, because I finally realized the truth: All human life is God-given and sacred.

Until Davey died, I think I subconsciously believed that life was only a blessing if it came on my timetable. If my children were born close in age, that was my “mistake,” and they really should not have showed up when they did.

I said the right things on the outside, but inside me there grew a culture of death.

It is in the air we all breathe. This culture of death has great and potent arguments against the Creator of Life: We need to pace ourselves, we need to know our limitations and be wise in how many children we choose to have. We shouldn’t keep on having kids if our motivation is just because we feel pressured to, or because we feel less-than as women unless we are breeding like rabbits.

These arguments take our eyes off the issue at stake: Is all life God-ordained and sacred? No matter when it comes, no matter whether we felt ready for it at the moment or not, no matter how much it will demand from us when it arrives.   Continue reading…

  • Jyl

    Thanks for writing this article Heidi. It covers many things I’ve been thinking through and is an encouragement. When I first got married I was excited to have kids and wanted to surrender my life to God in the area of children. However, His ways are not our ways and his plan was for us not to have kids right away . This was challenging for me to accept at first and I realized I wasn’t fully trusting Him. It took me on a journey of faith and I’ve learned so much. It also gave me a new appreciation of life, realizing every child is a gift and miracle from God. God can be trusted, even though there are many times we don’t understand what He is doing, we can trust He knows best.

  • David

    WOW!

    I love the perspective you have shared here.

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The Spiritual Duty of Enjoyment

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-summer-time-image29181257By Jesse Jost

When I read about the persecuted church or people suffering because they’re deprived of basic needs, I look around at the crazy abundance and health that I enjoy. And I feel guilty. Why was I born into this era and this family? I could have been born in the stench-filled belly of a slave ship, or grown up in daily terror of tribal warfare. I wrestle with what my response should be to this unfair situation. It feels wrong to enjoy comforts and delights in such excess when there are billions living without.

One possible response to this – that honestly turns my stomach and makes me very uncomfortable – is the thought that I should sell all my possessions and give them to the poor (Matt 19:21). Should I sacrifice my every comfort attempting to alleviate as much misery as possible? This is certainly one path that God calls many to. But being a father and husband complicates the issue. First Timothy 5:8 warns that he “who does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (NIV). Yes, I could sell everything but I also have a duty to keep my kids and wife warm, fed, and clothed. There is also the question of education and the protection of their spiritual and emotional well-being. It appears unwise for me, in this stage of life, to uproot them and move them all to a red-light district. But then again the gospel is about risk, sacrifice, and loving Christ above your family.

These are thorny thoughts that I would rather block out of my mind. I feel reluctant to thank God for the gifts he has given because I’m not sure it is right for me to enjoy them. The larger issue, of course, is not “doing what I’m comfortable with,” but living life the way my Creator wants me to. How does He want me to respond to this material abundance? Continue reading…

  • The Spiritual Duty of Enjoyment| Purity and Truth ‹ Refrains of Grace

  • Shannon Strom

    Reading this is God’s way of speaking through you, reminding us to be joyful of what we are blessed with from him and our beautiful spouses, children, relatives and friendship he has blessed us with. We must praise Him and be Thankful for everything we do have, and to help others whenever we can, or to speak of God’s loving words, to those who do not know Him personally. God blessed us with our lives and saved us from all of our sin. He is amazing, and it is amazing to follow Him, praise Him and receive the unconditional love from Him. How lucky are we!!! I love your writing Jesse, every word touches me and I hope you will continue to pass on God’s word.

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Church History pt 3 (1800-Now) Free Session Downloads

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-world-marketing-map-globe-image24418496“Church History Part 3: 1800 to the Present”

With Jesse Jost 

The audio downloads of the sessions from the final instalment of my church history series are now available below.

Please note: m4a files are designed for quicktime or iTunes, but later versions of Windows Media Players should also be able to play them. You will have to download the files to a computer before you can listen to them and add them to itunes before you can play them on your mobile device. Each session is about an hour long and the files are between 80 and 140 mb each so make sure you are on wifi.

Download Sessions: Here:

Download the Syllabus: Church History part 3 syllabus

To hear the first two parts of the series click here.

Friday 7:30 PM – Session 1 “Freedom’s Turmoil” (p. 8)

Historical background to 1800s: Decline of religion, common sense, French Revolution, the Great Awakenings, War of 1812, the birth of Canada, rise of nationalism and political freedom, technological revolutions, the train, the telegraph, industrialization, the telephone.

Saturday 9:30 AM – Session 2 “Imperialism and the explosion of missions.” (p. 10)

Colonialism, William Carey, Adoniram Judson, Hudson Taylor.

Saturday 10:45 AM – Session 3 “Revival and Strife” (p. 16)

Revival to revivalism, Charles Finney, abolitionism and the Civil War,

communes, Millerites, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventism.

Saturday 2:00 PM – Session 4 “Holiness and Reform”  (p.24)

DL Moody, Billy Sunday. The Holiness movement and the birth of Penecostalism: Phoebe Palmer, Asuza, Darwinism, higher criticism, and the rise of fundamentalism ( J Gresham Machen, changing eschatologies).The dark side of industrialization and the Christian response: progressives, the social gospel, Tommy Douglas. Capitalism, Socialism, communism, prohibition

Saturday 3:15 PM – Session 5: “The World at War” (p.38)

World War 1, the Great Depression, the rise of fascism and World War 2.

Saturday 4:30 PM – Session 6: “Social Upheaval and the Cold War” (p. 48)

The demise of the family. The pill, the sexual revolution, global tensions. Social change, the influence of movies, radio, the car, and television. The baby boom, the counter-culture revolution, the civil rights movement, the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Sunday 10:30 AM – Session 7: “New Awakenings” (p. 53)

The explosion of the church in Asia and Africa. The church in China. Persecution. The Evangelical Awakening. Truth and transformation. The power of the gospel to overcome the darkest times.

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Eschatology: A Fresh Look At Some Old Ideas

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-stack-antique-books-image27917410By Jesse Jost

For over a hundred and thirty years, the Evangelical church has been looking at prophecy through the interpretive lenses of Pre-Trib, Pre-Millennialism. The charts and memorable images of people vanishing, a one world government, rebuilt temple, The Anti-Christ, and the great tribulation are deeply imprinted in the evangelical mind. Many came to Christ because out of fear of being “left behind”. Every year prophecy books that see biblical fulfillment in recent world events top the best seller charts. Seemingly, there is no other way to look at prophecy. To many, the suggestion that some of these events may have been fulfilled in the past is tantamount to denying the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and the inerrancy of Scripture. However, what happens when you remove your preconceptions about the eschatological time table and let Scripture speak for itself?

In this article I will briefly examine some alternate interpretations of what the Bible has to say about the Kingdom, the Last Days, the Great Tribulation, the Beast of Revelation, and the Rapture. Pretend you are looking at the Bible for the first time and you have no ideas about the end times. Take another look.

The Kingdom

Nebuchadnezzar, the great world ruler, had a terrible nightmare. When he awoke, he simply had to know what his dream meant. Only to Daniel did God reveal the great significance of this vision of the future. Nebuchadnezzar had seen a great statue with a head of gold, a chest and arms of silver, a belly and thighs of bronze, legs of bronze, and feet of iron and clay. A stone that was not cut with human hands struck the feet of the statute and destroyed it. The stone became a great mountain that grew until it filled the earth. Daniel explained that each part of the statue represented a world kingdom: Babylon, then Media-Persia, then the Greeks, and finally the feet of iron – the terrible Roman Empire. In the days of this Roman Empire, God would set up a kingdom which would never be destroyed and would eventually break in pieces all other kingdoms. (Dan.2)

Let’s fast forward to the days of the Romans. John the Baptist appears on the scene warning “The time is fulfilled. Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” Jesus taught many parables about this imminent Kingdom. He likened it to leaven which is put in dough and multiplies until the whole loaf is permeated and to a mustard seed which is so tiny yet grows big enough for a bird to rest on it. (Matt. 13) Many Jews were aware of Daniel’s prophecy and knew they were in the days of the “kingdom of the feet.” Mothers wondered if their boys would be the Messiah who would deliver Israel and set up the foretold kingdom. Young zealots, with self induced visions of grandeur, tried to fulfill the prophecy. Jesus, recognized as the Messiah, was expected to set up this Kingdom. But, hopes were dashed with His death. Where was the Kingdom? Continue reading…

  • RJ Dotten

    Thank you for exposing this position to many who haven’t considered this. I was surrounding by dispensationalist thought until I began listening to Hank Hanegraff and Gary Demar teach on the subject. It is very clear and very simple. Your family just played at our Church and I found your website through the Josties site.

  • Tim

    “All Christian language about the future is a set of signposts pointing into a mist.”
    ― N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope

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Church History Lectures – Free Downloads

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-world-map-old-paper-image19606826by Jesse Jost

My first two series of lectures that I gave at “Weekend in the Word” on Church History are now available to download for free. I am planning to do the third and final series on church history this April 3-5, 2015 and it will cover the years of 1800 to the present. The links for part one (30AD -1500 AD) and part two (1500 AD-1800 AD) are available below at the end of each overview. So listen to them all or just the sessions that look interesting to you!

Please note: m4a files are designed for quicktime or iTunes, but later versions of Windows Media Players should also be able to play them. You will have to download the files to a computer before you can listen to them and add them to itunes before you can play them on your mobile device. Each session is about an hour long and the files are between 80 and 140 mb each so make sure you are on wifi.

Overview of Church History Part 1: AD 30-1500

There seems to be an epidemic of historical amnesia in today’s church. To some, it’s as if true Christianity disappeared for 1900 years and suddenly resurfaced with their modern denomination. This ignorance of history is dangerous. An old Russian proverb states, “Dwell on the past and you will lose an eye; forget the past and you will lose both eyes.” For many, history is nothing more than by-gone eras, dusty facts, and long-since-departed souls. However, history is not only a fascinating study of our ancestors – it is also a treasure chest full of wisdom, which Jesus and the apostles repeatedly drew from to teach valuable lessons. Because Christ entered His-story, all history has been infused with purpose. It is the profound story being written by the greatest Author of all time. God sits as Lord of the Universe. He laughs at empires and dynasties, but loves to change the world through the weak and simple. A trip through the colorful centuries of the Church reveals a God who is holy and awesome, His purposes that are beyond comprehension, and His reality that shatters man’s small-minded notions of Him.

When you study history, you will glimpse that plan, buried and concealed by our foolish choices, but there for those with open eyes. History is moving toward a thrilling conclusion in which every enemy of God will be soundly defeated. In the meantime, we would be wise to glean from the past and learn from the mistakes and victories of godly men and women who walked this path before us. Come on this life-changing journey to the first century, and follow the halting progress that the church, with all it warts and wildness, has made through the centuries.

Continue reading…